Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stu Davis

Stu Davis, "Canada's Country Troubador," was born named David Stewart in Boggy Creek, Saskatchewan (near Regina) in 1921. He started singing in talent shows as a teenager, twisting his name a bit because he didn't want his parents to know he was pursuing a career in music. The following year (his secret presumably out) he and his brother Fred formed a group named The Harmony Brothers and hosted a radio show on CHCK in Regina before both of them joined the armed forces to fight in WWII. In 1942, Stu received an honourable discharge from the RCAF and returned to CHCK. By the end of the war, Stu and his family (wife Evelyn and son Duane) moved to Calgary, where he performed at the Stampede and drew the attention of Hollywood talent scouts, which led to his being cast in the Warner Bros. film Northwest Stampede.

Around this time, Davis became friends with Canadian country legend Wilf Carter, who set up Davis' first recording session with Sonora Records. This led to another session with RCA Victor, and his association with the major label brought his song "What A Fool I Was" to the attention of Eddy Arnold, who had a #2 hit with it, only the third time a song by a Canadian-born songwriter had reached the Billboard country charts. By the end of the '40's, Davis was touring throughout the U.S. and Canada and had played at the National Barn Dance in Chicago and the Grand Ole Opry. Throughout the '50's he hosted several radio and television shows, including Country Corral on CJCA in Edmonton and the CBC's Stu Davis Show, Swing Your Partner, Rope Around The Sun and Red River Jamboree.

After hosting the 13-part Trail Riding Troubadour series in 1968, Davis semi-retired from the music biz in order to concentrate on real estate and ranching (although he did return to the recording studio a few times over the years) and was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. Predeceased by his wife Evelyn in 1986, Stu passed away on March 25th, 2007.

Stu Davis Invites You To Saddle Your Worries To A Song was Stu's first LP with London Records and was recorded in Montreal in 1956. Although it included three of his own compositions, the tunes I'm posting here today are covers of popular songs of the era. "Diggin' With A Hoe" and "I Took It" are charming, upbeat ditties sung by Davis with only his acoustic guitar as accompaniment, but "I Still Do" is the gem here. Written by Canadian-born Bob Nolan for his group Sons Of The Pioneers, "I Still Do" is an achingly beautiful ballad on which Stu's voice is multitracked for harmony singing.

Diggin' With A Hoe
I Still Do
I Took It

Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.


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